Thursday, November 22, 2018

Wellness at the workplace

By Beverly Pereira
Photography: People’s Architecture Office, Jing Weiqi 
Read Time: 2 mins
"leping headquarteres PAO indiaartndesign"

Surpassing the clich├ęd norm of the office gym, People’s Architecture Office designs the Leping Foundation headquarters in Beijing as a workplace that focusses on wellbeing. 

An increasing number of companies subscribe to the belief that happy and healthy employees make a productive workplace. But, Beijing-based People’s Architecture Office (PAO) takes the notion of workplace wellness to a new level at the Leping Foundation headquarters. 

"atrium functions leping headquarteres PAO indiaartndesign"
Atrium functions
"working positions in the red ring leping headquarteres PAO indiaartndesign"
working positions in the red ring

Aligning with the foundation’s mission of social innovation, PAO conceptualises a layout plump with opportunities for both - movement and rest. Even though the 1,100 sq. m. office provides for a gym and meditation space, the concept builds on the understanding that physical activity throughout the day is good for the brain. 

"multifunction area leping headquarteres PAO indiaartndesign"
"multifunctional space leping headquarteres PAO indiaartndesign"

A focal element is a red ring of vegetation suspended in mid-air and mirrored below by a central activity loop. Staff from the foundation’s investee companies that work in the fields of job training for migrant workers, agricultural research, preschool education and microfinance are encouraged to take a lap along the track while on call. They may even take a breather, or converse with colleagues, while caring for the plants. 

"mountain leping headquarteres PAO indiaartndesign"
"mountains leping headquarteres PAO indiaartndesign"

At one end of the office is a mini-mountain of sorts that encourages varying degrees of activity, posture change and rest. For one, employees might opt to ‘hike’ up to the mezzanine level. Gradating bands of blue span the height of the walls and columns at intervals of 60 cm, each serving as an indication of the recommended periods of time spent at each height and that correspond to favourable postures like laying down, sitting, walking and climbing. On similar lines, combating the high levels of pollution in Bejing, an air purification system — fitted in the vegetation loop — monitors and displays indoor air quality data in real-time. 

"office area leping headquarteres PAO indiaartndesign"
"office area2 leping headquarteres PAO indiaartndesign"

Small social spaces like mini kitchens and lounge zones promote spontaneous communication encouraging collaboration. Besides, the workstations utilise a truss structure to accommodate suspended storage, thereby freeing up floor space for ease of movement.  

"red ribbon leping headquarteres PAO indiaartndesign"
"activities leping headquarteres PAO indiaartndesign"

In addition to hosting events, the interior of the central activity loop serves as a space for incubating social enterprises. A People’s Canopy — a retractable canopy fitted with cycles — can be moved around or expanded to serve as an isolated space for meetings within the loop. Additionally, Tetris and other gaming tables configured to work in combinations or individually, offer flexibility and ample opportunities for interaction. 

"breakout area leping headquarteres PAO indiaartndesign"
"cafe leping headquarteres PAO indiaartndesign"

Supplementing the wellness factor is an open kitchen along the length of the office, where fresh vegetables and aromatic herbs from the activity loop vegetation and adjoining hydroponic gardens are harvested and prepared on-site for lunch. 

Fact File:
Client: Leping Social Entrepreneur Foundation Headquarters
Design Firm: People’s Architecture Office
Principal Designers: He Zhe, James Shen, Zang Feng
Project Team: Jiang Hao, Sha Jinghai, Kong Ming, Cui Gangjian, Xiang Weixing, Lin Mingkai, Xu Xi, Jing Zhenzhen, Chen Ziwei
Area: 1100 sq. m.
Location: Beijing

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